Voices & Choices

Fact check: what GOP leader Kevin McCarthy gets wrong about ranked choice voting

Fact check: what GOP leader Kevin McCarthy gets wrong about ranked choice voting

The historic use of ranked choice voting in Maine’s midterm congressional elections continues to make headlines, though not always in a positive light.

The latest criticism comes from U.S. House Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who in an interview on Fox Business framed the voting reform as a Democratic scheme that ultimately cost incumbent Bruce Poliquin his re-election victory. The GOP leader’s attack comes amid debate over the future ranked choice voting in Maine, with dueling bills to both expand and repeal it under consideration in the state legislature.

The largely Republican-led opposition of the 2018 RCV elections have been repeatedly rejected, though - by the people of Maine who twice voted in favor of it, by the Trump-appointed federal judge who reaffirmed its use following the November election and again in the Portland Press Herald story on McCarthy’s accusations.

“Golden [the Democratic victor], however, did not ‘go through” to victory because he is a Democrat. He won because he had more support among voters who picked one of two independents in the first round of voting,” the article stated.

And while the issue has split across party lines in Maine, elsewhere it is conservative leaders who are championing the more fair and democratic reform, demonstrating the nonpartisan nature of its value.

On the same day that McCarthy denounced RCV, Missouri Rep. Dan Stacy, a Republican, championed its benefits in an interview for the local TV station. Stacy was among an number of Republican legislators to sponsor ranked choice voting bills in their state legislatures this session, along with Utah Rep. Marc Roberts whose efforts to support the state’s 2019 RCV pilot program through legislation and funding were approved last month.

As Federal District Court Judge Lance Walker wrote in his opinion denying Poliquin's request to halt the ranked choice count in November,  “The RCV Act, after all, is party-blind.”

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